On Publishing: Five Things About the Business that Surprised Me

Eighteen years ago this month, I received a call from an editor at Tor Books asking me if I could please send his way all the completed chapters and outlines of what would become my first published novel, Children of Amarid. It took a while to get the contract settled, another fourteen months passed before I turned in the completed first draft of the book, and it took two years after that (revisions, polishing, production issues) to get the book out in stores. But still, this is the eighteenth anniversary of what I think of as the beginning of my writing career.

In the time since, I have published eleven more books and several short stories. I have two more books in production and several others written and still looking for a home. My career has seen high points, low points and everything in between, and I have learned a […]

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On Publishing: What is the Right Price for an E-Book?

A recent discussion on a listserv I share with a large group of professional genre writers has had me thinking for days now. There was one comment in particular made by a long-time pro with an established track record of writing terrific fantasy and science fiction. And at the risk of setting off what I suppose might become a heated discussion, I thought that I would share the gist of this person’s comments along with my thoughts on them.

The point this other writer made was essentially this (I am paraphrasing here, and actually adding my own thoughts on the matter): It can be infuriating for me as a writer to hear people say that they will only pay, say, $1.99 or less for an e-book. Why? Because such a statement assumes that the value of the book lies largely not its artistic merit or the production efforts of editors, […]

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Writing Your Book, part XIII: Anatomy of a Book Contract

Last week, in our continuing “Writing Your Book” series, we found ourselves an agent and, at long last, received a viable offer for our book. Yay, us! This week we are going to take a closer look at book contracts and what they do and don’t say by breaking down a typical contract section by section. I have to admit that I find myself somewhat disturbed by the fact that we’re doing this in installment 13 of the series (and that the contract I’ll be breaking down is for the Thieftaker series), but there’s little to be done about it. Fates be damned; full speed ahead!

Book contracts, while not huge, are fairly significant pieces of legalese, typically running in the neighborhood of fifteen pages or so. Most of the time, particularly for new writers, agents and publishers work off what is called a boilerplate contract. A boilerplate is a […]

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Writing Your Book, part XII: Stepping Into the Business

If you’ve been following my “Writing Your Book” series from the beginning, then you know that our book is finished, we have gone through our rewrites, and when we left off, we had gone to a couple of conventions to market ourselves and make some connections with editors and agents who might help us get our book book published. Well, today we’re going to talk a bit about the business realities that face the beginning writer when those offers finally start coming.

Let’s say that the networking we did at MagicalWordsCon has paid off and we have not just one, but two agents interested in representing us. One of them is a young agent from the Big Name Agency in New York City. The second is an older agent from his own agency — Friendly Agency in, say, Ann Arbor, Michigan. How do you decide which of the two is […]

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Business Realities for the Beginning Writer

Last week we posted about creating first impressions and doing what we could to interest editors and agents in our work. I’m not sure where Faith, Misty, and Catie were planning to take this discussion this week, but I thought I’d jump ahead to an assumption of “success” and give you some sense of the economic realities of being a beginning writer. (I should add here that Catie posted about royalties back in May — yes, I checked — but what I have in mind to do is more geared toward beginners.) So brace yourselves for a dose of reality. It’s not going to be pretty.

Let’s start with a little quiz: What do you think is (approximately) the average advance given to a first-time writer of genre fiction? a) $5,000; b) $7,500; c) $10,000; d) $12,500; e) $15,000. Think about it for a while. The answer is coming later.


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